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Making of a Teenage Service ClassPoverty and Mobility in an American City$
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Ranita Ray

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292055

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292055.001.0001

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Uncertain Success

Uncertain Success

Chapter:
(p.202) 8 Uncertain Success
Source:
Making of a Teenage Service Class
Author(s):

Ranita Ray

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520292055.003.0008

This chapter explores how Port City youth invest in displaying their socially mobile markers not only through school, work, and bourgeois heteronormative life but also through their everyday styles and consumptions. Youth performed class in their daily lives by producing mobility symbols in their leisure practices, clothing, music, vernacular, and food preferences. To manage their haphazard educational and occupational trajectories, the youth redefined mobility into goals that were achievable. While the majority of our understanding of youth regarding race/ethnicity, gender, and class is based on school ethnographies, a context in which students often perform class through memberships in groups that are part of a hierarchical order, this chapter frames meanings of class and youth cultural production by considering how youth perform social mobility in everyday life as they transition to adulthood. When highlighting how youth managed uncertain trajectories by redefining mobility, this chapter emphasizes the points of contact between the marginalized Port City youth and middle-class people who facilitated their access to middle-class cultural capital while also causing “hidden injuries” of class and race. Youth consumed certain foods, visited certain restaurants, watched shows, and even left Port City to claim membership in the middle class—and sometimes this further constrained opportunities.

Keywords:   performing class, mobility symbols, styles and consumption, cultural capital, youth cultural production

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